Boston-based Partners HealthCare, only weeks after it lost an antitrust battle regarding planned acquisitions, is in the crosshairs again, this time from the Massachusetts attorney general, for the planned purchase of a doctors group.
Attorney General Maura Healey wrote in a letter to Partners' new CEO, David Torchiana, that the system should halt plans to acquire Harbor Medical Associates, a physician group with about 70 doctors that operates south and east of Boston.
“In the current environment, when the commonwealth and healthcare stakeholders should be uniquely committed to restraining costs, it is not the right time for an acquisition certain to increase prices and nearly certain to increase overall costs,” Healey wrote.
Healey urges Partners to re-evaluate its expansion plans as she says Torchiana pledged to do in February. His past statements are inconsistent with Partners' plan to acquire Harbor, she said.
Rich Copp, a Partners spokesman, said it's impossible to predict the precise price effect the acquisition might have because it has not yet taken place. “We're evaluating appropriate ways to respond to some of the cost concerns that have been raised,” he said.
A Partners' acquisition of Harbor would likely result in a permanent Harbor physician price increase of 41.5% for payers, according to a 2013 preliminary report by the Massachusetts' Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency. At the time of that report, Partners wrote a rebuttal, disagreeing with the report's findings.